Computer pioneer, mathematician, and codebreaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England’s £50 note.

New £50 note design featuring Alan Turning

Turing, who is considered the father of computer science and artificial intelligence (AI), worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during World War Two, playing a huge role in switching the advantage to the Allies in the battle for the Atlantic. The invention of his codebreaking machine that broke the Nazis’ Enigma code is said to have shortened the war by 2-3 years, and saved an estimated 14-21 million lives.

In 2018, the Banknote Character Advisory Committee chose to celebrate the field of science on the £50 note and this was followed by a six week public nomination period. 

The Bank received a total of 227,299 nominations, covering 989 eligible characters. The Committee considered all the nominations before deciding on a shortlist of 12 options, which were put to Carney for him to make the final decision. The shortlist included Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Stephen Hawking, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Sanger 

In February the BBC held an ‘Icons’ debate in which to help the nation decide who should be honored. Alan Turing’s legacy and contribution to the world was given by Chris Packham, who made this impassioned speech:

Brilliant news, and a well deserved honor.